Munda Airfield

The following narrative and 3 "Tasks", provide an overall picture of the
Pacific War as it concerned the USS Helena CL-50 and the US Navy during WWII.

Information provided by Doug Graff-Comella.
Doug's Father was among those killed when the USS Helena CL-50
was sunk by the Japanese on July 6, 1943.


Narrative


United States Army in World War II
The War in the Pacific
Strategy and Command : The First Two Years
Page 619


10 July 2100 PINK
Nimitz Grey Book
Volume 1
Page 620


SECTION I

1. Summary of the situation.

As the result of the battle in the Coral Sea and off Midway, Japan has suffered
heavy and disproportionate naval losses. The losses are considered sufficient
to permit us to take the offensive in the Southwest Pacific Area.

At present the only enemy activity in the Pacific ocean areas that threatens the
accomplishment of tasks assigned to the Commander-In-Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet
is the occupation of positions in the western ALEUTIANS.

2. The following directive has been received from the Commander-in-Chief,
United States Fleet:

The United States Chiefs of Staff have agreed upon the following joint directive
for offensive operations in the Southwest Pacific Area.

Objectives: Offensive operations will be conducted with the ultimate objective of
seizure and occupation of the NEW BRITAIN NEW IRELAND - NEW GUINEA
area.

Purpose: To deny the area to Japan.

(a) Task 1: Seizure and occupation of SANTA CRUZ Islands, TULAGI and
adjacent positions.

(b) Task 2: Seizure and occupation of the remainder of the SOLOMON Islands,
of LAE, SALAMANTA, and Northeast of coast NEW GUINEA.

(c) Task 3: Seizure and occupation of RABAUL and adjacent positions in the
NEW GUINEA New IRELAND area.

Summary of the Situation
Nimitz Grey Book
Volume 1
Page 714




A Japanese directive in late October 1942 called for an air base to be built at Munda Point, about
150 miles (240 km) northwest of Guadalcanal and Henderson Field.

Construction began in mid-November with a great emphasis on keeping the forward airfield secret.
The majority of airfield work done before clearing the main runway and surfacing it with crushed coral.
By wiring the tops of palm trees to keep them in place, allowing work to initially escape detection.
Finally the trunks were cut away, and runway completed.

Despite these efforts, reports of the strip were relayed to Guadalcanal via coastwatcher Danny Kennedy
and aerial reconnaissance spotted increased barge traffic and evidence of crushed coral being prepared
at the strip, but the Japanese succeeded in buying enough time to complete a single 1,094 feet (333 m)
by 44 feet (13 m) all weather runway for fighters operational on 17 December 1942.

Opened on 1 December 1942, it was used by the Japanese Navy and Japanese Army Air Force as a
forward operating base. As soon as it was operational, the airfield was hampered by the observation
of coastwatchers in the area, including Kennedy and D.C. Horton who was observing the airfield from
Rendova. It was heavily bombed from the air by the Allies prior to the American landing. The US Navy
also shelled the airfield.

Munda airfield was the principal objective of the Central Solomons campaign, also known as Munda or
Munda Point Airfield. It was captured by the US Army XIV Corps forces after 12 continuous days of
fierce fighting in the jungle area. The high ground around the airfield fell on August 5, 1943.

Once seized, the Americans improved and expanded the airbase for their own operations. The first
American aircraft landed at Munda on August 14, 1943 with landings by F4U Corsairs piloted by
Robert Owen of VMF-215, a 44th Fighter Squadron (44th FS) P-40 Warhawk and a J2F Duck with
Marine Brigadier General Francis P. Mulcahy aboard.

Narrative provided by Wikipedia
Click Here!




Looking eastward, over Munda Field, toward the scene of battle, this post-war picture shows
how the jungle has already begun to encroach on what was the busiest Allied airstrip in the
Solomons. Within a year dense vegetation had already obscured Bibilo Hill, while once bare
Kokengolo (to the center left of the photograph) sprouts a thick growth.


Narrative in the upper left corner reads as follows:
MUNDA FIELD BOMBARDMENT
0114 1/5/43 DIAGRAM OF
RADAR SCREEN PHOTOGRAPH
1414 ZEBRA; JAN, 1943

Watch a WWII movie. Life Line To Rendova Island.
A 1943 World War Two Educational Documentary.
Time: 16 minutes 52 seconds.

View with discretion. Some scenes may be 'OFFENSIVE' .
Click HERE!


Home

CL-50

CL-50 Archive Index

NARA Index